Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lennie Tristano, Wally Cirillo & Claude Thornhill

Hey everyone

Today the JTA just hit a milestone: 10,000 hits! That's pretty cool, considering I've done practically nothing to promote this page. I'm happy that so many people are finding it useful and interesting.

Here are a couple new charts to celebrate: two from the Tristano camp and one from Claude Thornhill's book.

Also, don't forget: The Jazz Transcript Authority is based on an open-source model, which means you can feel free to contribute your own transcriptions of tunes. Just email them to jazztranscriptauthority@gmail.com. You can also feel free to point out corrections that you feel should be made to the transcriptions which I've posted, kind of like a peer-review site. The goal is to come up with the most accurate transcription possible, and that's easier when multiple sets of ears comb through these tunes. Please post comments with your suggestions if you hear something differently than me.

Billy Bauer - Marionette

(Update Sept. 2015: I just learned that this tune was written by guitarist Billy Bauer, not by Tristano. I apologize for the error.)

Tristano and his students/bandmates wrote so many good tunes that are hardly ever played today. Yet Tristano was, even in his day, regarded as a major figure in the modern jazz movement (Max Roach called Tristano's group the "Downtown School", while the group around Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie was the "Uptown School") I think it's because few people ever take the time to transcribe them, and whatever transcriptions exist circulate very slowly, if at all. Even the tunes included in the 2nd Real Book Vol. II ("Lennie's Pennies", "April", etc.) have failed to become standards. In any case, here's one of his more well-known sides, taken from his influential May 1949 session.

Wally Cirillo - Transeason

One of the many unique contrafacts to come out of the Tristano school. This one is based on "All The Things You Are", a tune which Charles Mingus was particularly fond of manipulating in various ways. I don't know much about Wally Cirillo, but I do know he was a student of Tristano's. The sole recording of this piece is from January 1955, with Teo Macero playing tenor saxophone, Mingus playing bass, and Kenny Clarke playing drums. Oddly enough, although the melody of the tune is in Bb, the solo section modulates back to Ab, the standard instrumental key of "All The Things You Are".

Claude Thornhill - Snowfall

While technically it's spring, we're still getting through the last of our cold weather here in Michigan and I fully expect one more massive blizzard before springtime bliss. Just play this tune, it'll get you through the remaining cold days. (And don't transpose it either! C'mon, shed your altered dominants and have some fun.)